What should charities expect in 2019?

21st February 2019

What should charities expect in 2019?

Despite what the news channels would have us believe, there is more to the national agenda than Brexit - and for the charity sector, 2019 is shaping up to be a busy year. 

Here, Ellie Williams of Higgs & Sons’ Charity and Not for Profit team, takes a whistle stop tour of some of the issues set to make the headlines this year.


  • There is hope that the Minister for Sport and Civil Society will respond to, and progress, the Law Commission’s recommendations for charity law reform. An interim response is long overdue, but with Brexit dominating parliamentary time, we may have to wait a little longer for a new Charities Act. 
  • The Charity Commission is to consult on proposals to charge for its services. This was expected in 2018, but never materialised and the Commission has confirmed it is still lacking resources so watch this space… 
  • The Charity Commission’s consultation on charities that are connected with non-charitable organisations (such as trading subsidiaries) concluded in 2018. It is hoped that the resulting guidance, aimed at helping trustees to maintain their separation and independence, will be published later this year. 
  • From 1 April 2019, the legal names of all trustees of registered charities will be displayed on the public Register of Charities - unless a dispensation has been granted, ie if displaying the trustee’s name could put that person in danger (including danger to mental and physical health). 
  • The Information Commissioner’s Office is expected to update its direct marketing code of practice which will build on existing guidance for charities about complying with data protection obligations. 
  • There will be an increase in the small-scale trading exemption limits for charities. The change comes into effect on April 6 for charities subject to income tax (charitable trusts) and on April 1 for charities subject to corporation tax (all other forms of charity). 
  • The maximum an individual can donate in cash or by contactless payment is set to change under the Gift Aid Small Donations Scheme and will be increased from £20 to £30. It’s anticipated this will to come into effect on April 6 subject to parliamentary timetabling. 
  • It’s possible that Charitable Community Benefits Societies (CCBSs) - except for registered providers of social housing - will lose their exempt charity status this year, as no principal regulator has yet been appointed to regulate charity law compliance by these charities.  If this is the case, it is possible that the Charity Commission will begin accepting applications to convert those CCBSs to Charitable Incorporated Organisations (CIOs). 
  • The EU’s Fifth Money Laundering Directive will extend the trust registration obligation to all express trusts, even where they have not generated a UK tax liability.  This is due to take effect in 2020, but guidance from HM Treasury on whether this requirement will apply to restricted funds (or ‘special trusts’) held by a charity is still awaited. Charity practitioners will want to quickly understand the implications this will have on the creation and administration of charitable trusts. HM Treasury has stated it will consult later in 2019. 
  • The Charity Commission is to update its guidance for auditors and independent examiners on their duty to report matters of material significance. The Intention is to introduce a form to report relevant matters to the Charity Commission. 
  • The Fundraising Regulator welcomed a new chairman at the beginning of the year and is set to start naming charities and fundraising organisations when it investigates a complaint. 
  • The Government has proposed a UK Shared Prosperity Fund to replace EU funding. A consultation was due at the end of 2018 but this did not happen and there remains huge uncertainty around the subject. 
  • And because we can’t not mention it... Brexit! It is still unknown what affect Brexit will have, but it’s largely expected to have a negative impact on the UK economy.  No doubt it is having, and will have, a detrimental effect on those charities who are in receipt of funding from the EU.  It is crucial that charities prepare for a range of scenarios, including loss of funding and the possibility of recession.  If they haven’t already done so, charities should be considering the implications, assessing the risk to their charity and putting contingencies in place.


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